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(For informational purposes only, for specific questions on your EFB system, application, or other questions please refer to the appropriate FAA guidance or regulation. If you have any questions or comments on this section please direct them towards support@flightprep.com)

Here are some of the Regulations for Electronic Flight Bag (EFB):
FAA AC 91-78 Use of Class 1 or Class 2 Electronic Flight Bag (EFB)
Includes very concise information for Part 91 and the use of Electronic Flight Bag Devices. Provides aircraft owners, operators, and pilots operating aircraft under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91, with information for removal of paper aeronautical charts and other documentation from the cockpit through the use of either portable or installed cockpit displays (electronic flight bags (EFB)). According to this AC, Class 1 and Class 2 EFB can be used during all phases of flight operations in lieu of paper reference material when the information displayed meets the following criteria:
1- The EFB system does not replace any system or equipment (e.g. navigation, communication, or surveillance system) that is required by 14 CFR part 91.
2- The EFB system on board the aircraft displays only precomposed or interactive information which are functionally equivalent to the paper reference material which the information is replacing or is substituted for.
3- The interactive or precomposed information being used for navigation or performance planning is current, up-to-date, and valid, as verified by the pilot.
4- The operator complies with requirements of 14 CFR part 91, § 91.21 to ensure that the use of the EFB does not interfere with equipment or systems required for flight.

It further clarifies that the in-flight use of an EFB in lieu of paper reference material is the decision of the aircraft operator and the pilot in command. Any Type A or Type B EFB application, as defined in AC 120-76A may be substituted for the paper equivalent. It requires no formal operational approval as long as the guidelines of this AC are followed.

FAA AC 120-76A Guidelines for the Certification, Airworthiness, and Operational Approval of Electronic Flight Bag Computing Devices
Defines EFB, the classifications, types of software, and is mainly applicable to Part 135 & 121 Operations.

Title 14 CFR § 91.21 refers to Portable Electronic Device (PED). As defined in AC 120-76A, Class 1 and 2 EFBs are considered PEDs. 91.21(b)(5) Goes on to state that the PED may be used if and only if: "the operator of the aircraft has determined will not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be used."
FAA Notice N 8900.17," Electronic Flight Bag Systems Used in Aircraft Operated Under 14 CFR Part 91", is the FAA Inspector's clarification AC 91-78, AC 120-76A and Notice N 8200.98. It clarifies several issues pertaining to Part 91 (including Subpart F operators). According to Notice N 8900.17, the in-flight use of EFB systems to depict images in lieu of paper reference material is the decision of the aircraft operator and the pilot in command.

So is all of this automation and paperless flying legal with the FAA?
Well, as in much of aviation this question depends on your type of operation. If you are flying part 91 (vast majority of GA and light Business operators) you most likely will be able to fly with only electronic charts at the decision of the Pilot in Command (PIC). In July of 2007 the FAA published FAA AC-91-78 that pertains to the usage of Class 1 or Class 2 Electronic Flight Bags (EFB) to clarify concerns about the usage of EFB's when flying under part 91. Part 135 and 121 may also be able to fly paperless after meeting special FAA requirements. Please feel free to call or email us for clarification and please review FAA AC-120-76A. Offered as an extension to a number of prior advisories and "Job Aides" intended for field inspectors, Advisory Circular 91-78 covers the subject of Electronic Flight Bag. It defines the meaning of both an Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) and an Electronic Chart Display (ECD). ChartCase software performs BOTH of these functions. The FAA goes on to recommend but not require that a secondary source of information be available to the pilot. Most FlightPrep software users accomplish this by loading their software on a second portable system IE: An old laptop, or printing out a spare set of some approach plates.

Many customers and prospective customers contact us to assist in a mission: "Please Help me go paperless and assist me in getting from here to there."
One of the major motivators for using an EFB is to reduce or eliminate the need for paper and other reference materials in the cockpit. The AC's above describe EFB functions, features, and selected hosted applications, and applies to the certification and operational approval of both portable and installed EFBs.FlightPrep has the only EFB solution that really accomplishes that task with your aircraft position on a real Sectional, Low/High Enroute, TAC, WAC, or Approach Plate. So your flying with a digital paper image of the real chart! Not a Vector (Computer driven image of what looks a lot like a chart but leaves things out.) Some confusion comes in when customers compare our system and software to others. Much of this confusion is about what "Charts" you really get with other products. Most other products do not have the real VFR and IFR charts.

What are the different classes of EFB and which one do I need or do I have?
AC 120-76A Harware Classes
Class 1 EFB

Class 1 EFB is Portable Electronic Device (PED) that is typically stowed during critical phases of flight. Typically Commercial Off-the Shelf Systems (COTS), Class 1 EFBs can connect to ship's power and read-only data sources. Other than power and data connectivity connectivity, Class 1 EFBs are not subject to airworthiness requirements such as DO-160E, and can run Type A and Type B software applications. Basically a class 1 EFB is a system that is hand held, sits on a lap, or is NOT attached to anything, including the pilot.

Class 2 EFB

A Class 2 EFB is still considered a PED and has all of the capabilities of a Class 1 EFB, but it is available for use during critical phase via an airworthy mounting device or kneeboard. Class 2 EFBs are typically COTS systems modified for aircraft use, or they are designed specifically for EFB applications. If you have a yoke, kneeboard, seat rail, or other type of mount, your EFB system is considered a Class 2.

Class 3 EFB

A Class 3 EFB is essentially an avionics system subject to airworthiness requirements such as DO-160E hardware requirements and DO-178A software requirements. These range from panel mounted MFDs to custom integrated airworthy systems (such as those based on Paperless Cockpit's FliteServ C3 platform and OEM installed EFB systems). Class 3 EFB's are something installed in the airplane permanently. IE: the MFD in some glass panels perform many similar Class 3 EFB functions.

AC 120-76A Application Types
Type A

Type A Applications are typically precomposed, static versions of traditionally paper documents. Under AC 120-76A, Type A Applications:

  • May be hosted on any of the hardware classes
  • Require Flight Standards District Office (FSDO)/PI approval for OpSpecs holders (i.e. Part 135, Part 121)
  • Do not require an AIR design approval
  • Are not subject to RTCA DO-178B software requirements
  • FlightPrep software titles that comply as a Type A application: Golden Eagle and ChartCase
Type B

Type B Applications are typically interactive applications that allow manipulation of the presentation, such as panning and zooming on a chart. Under AC 120-76A, Type B Applications:

  • May be hosted on any of the hardware classes
  • Require FSDO/PI approval for OpSpecs holders
  • Require AEG evaluation for OpSpecs holders
  • Do not require an AIR design approval
  • Are not subject to RTCA DO-178B software requirements
  • FlightPrep software titles that comply as a Type A application: Golden Eagle and ChartCase
Type C

Type C Applications are avionics-grade applications and are subject to airworthiness requirements, including DO-178B Software Assurance, AEG evaluation, and AIR design approval. No FlightPrep software titles are Type C Applications

Do I need to have a solid state disk drive if I am flying a pressurized aircraft in case of a decompression?
If you are operating a pressurized aircraft and are looking to move towards a completely paperless cockpit we do recommend that you consider a solid state hard drive based upon the need you may have for charts and plates after such an event. If you were flying with paper charts they would be most likely available after a pressurization system issue, if using digital charts as a paper replacement they should meet the same operational requirement.

Do I need to have decompression testing completed for my EFB equipment?
If you are operating a pressurized aircraft there is not a regulation in place at this time stating that you must altitude test your EFB equipment. This requirement may change in the future. If so there will be more information posted at this site.

More to come in the Paperless Learning Center!

Please send questions to: support@flightprep.com

References: FAA regulations, notices and Advisory Circulars, Numerous FSDO offices, Paperless Cockpit Inc., and other sources.